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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

278                             THE GAY GENIUS

brother. After being greeted with a storm of censors' criticism, upon his
arrival, Tungpo was even more determined to withdraw, and sent his
fifth and sixth letters begging for release.

The more Su Tungpo pleaded to be sent away from the capital, the
worse it looked for his political opponents. Chia Yi, the disciple of
Cheng Yi, said in his memorial of fifteen hundred words that by these
letters of resignation Su Tungpo was using his pressure on the court^
to fish for the premiership. Anything that Chia Yi could dig up to dis-
credit him was fully exploited. That curious little poem that he had
written on the wall of a temple at Yangchow two months after the
previous emperor's death was now completely aired in a court audience.
The long embankment on West Lake was characterised as "of no
benefit to the government or to anybody". He was accused of constantly
misleading the government about the famine conditions at Hangchow.
Su sent a letter to the court curiously entitled "Memorandum Begging
to Run Away from Chia Yi". "Chia Yi is only concerned with priv^fE
vengeance. He will do anything to get me out, even if it involves leav-
ing people of an entire district to die in the gutter." Here was, then, a
serious open quarrel at court. Among the enemies of Su Tungpo were
this Chia Yi, who had deserted his own Honan party after it was over-
thrown, and another man, Yang Wei, who was nicknamed "Three-
faced Yang" because he had played the turncoat with Wang Anshih,
with Szema Kuang, with Lu Tafang, Fan Chunjen, and others, in a
bewildering succession of changes of convictions. On Su Tungpo's
side, however, there were many friends in power. The fight was an
even one, but it could not end otherwise than it did, because-both Portia*
igreed on the one objective. His enemies wanted to drive him aWSyT
and this was exactly what Su Tungpo wanted. Famine or no famine,
the political fight was carried to its logical conclusion when Su was
given a post at Yingchow (Fouyang) three months later.

But his job was not done. Famine conditions grew worse and worse
as the crops of 1091 again failed. He served at Yingchow for eight
months, and then at Yangchow for seven months, and thus had an
opportunity to see the condition of the country north of the Yangtse. In
the winter of 1091, while at Yingchow, he once went outside the city
and saw hordes of refugees coming towards the Huai bank from the
south-east. He reported that the farmers were beginning to tear off elnf
bark and cook it with purslane and bran to make a mealy paste. Roving
bandits were multiplying, and Su reported many cases of looting and
robbery. He predicted .that the worst was yet to come, and that when it
came, greater hordes of refugees would flee from south of the Yangtse.
The weak and the old would fall by the roadside, while the young and
strong ones wou!4 ji*i the bandits.

It was New Year's Eve. Su Tungpo went up the city tower with his